Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice dating back thousands of years. It involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to balance the flow of energy or life force, known as Qi (pronounced “chee”). Modern science explains it as stimulating nerves, muscles, and connective tissue to enhance blood flow and trigger the body’s natural painkillers.
Acupuncture is known to treat a wide range of conditions. This includes back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, migraines, and headaches. Additionally, acupuncture is used to help treat conditions such as insomnia, stress, infertility, digestive disorders, and more. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes its effectiveness in treating over 40 conditions.
When performed by a qualified, trained practitioner, acupuncture is generally safe with few side effects. It is important to ensure that single-use, sterile needles are used to minimize the risk of infection.
During an acupuncture session, very thin needles are inserted into specific points on your body. The number of needles used during a session varies but could be as few as five or as many as 20. The needles are typically left in place for 10 to 20 minutes while you lie still and relax.
While acupuncture does involve the insertion of needles, most people do not find the process painful. The needles are much thinner than those used for injections or blood draws. You may feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted, followed by a mild tingling, numbness, or warmth.
The number of acupuncture sessions needed depends on the individual and the condition being treated. Chronic conditions may require one to two sessions a week for several months, while acute issues might be resolved with fewer visits. Your acupuncture provider will create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Acupuncture often works hand-in-hand with herbal medicine and nutritional counseling in TCM. Herbs can enhance the effect of acupuncture by promoting healing and wellness, while nutrition advice can support overall health. Your practitioner may suggest dietary changes or herbs to complement your acupuncture treatment.